SK grads see major advances

It took a while, but former South Kitsap standout Willie Bloomquist has finally gotten a bit of financial security from the Seattle Mariners.

And while the utility player enjoys the benefits of signing a contract that enables him to stay with the Mariners for two more season, other South Kitsap grads haven’t reached that mark as of yet.

But don’t think they aren’t trying.

As the 2006 Major League Baseball season opens this week, here is a brief look at some former SK players that are making a name for themselves in the major leagues.

• Jason Ellison, San Francisco Giants: Ellison had a great spring and earned a spot on the Giants’ active roster. He finished spring training with a blistering .403 batting average while appearing in 28 games for the Giants last month.

Ellison drove in 10 runs, hit two homers and stole three bases.

“He’s had a great spring, is playing well and playing hard, has improved over last year and can play outfield positions extremely well,” San Francisco Manager Felipe Alou said on the Giants Web site. “There are a bunch of things we can’t hide or deny the kid.”

Ellison, who hit .264 with four homers and 24 RBI in 131 games with San Francisco last year, will be one of six outfielders the Giants will use to start the season.

He expects to see most of his action as a late-inning replacement on the basepaths and should fill in when Barry Bonds sits out games.

• Jason Hammel, Durham Bulls: Hammel is listed on the Tampa Bay Devil Rays’ 40-man roster but will start the year in Triple A Durham after recording an ERA of 6.0 during the spring.

“(Manager Joe Maddon said) I made a good impression, and to go down and log some innings ... and see you in a little bit,” Hammel told the team’s Web site. “It was just consistency (I need to work on), basically. (I need to) go out there and do what I’ve been doing, and be ready to do work there.”

Hammel, the Ray’s 2005 Minor League Pitcher of the Year, went 3-2 for the Bulls last year with a 4.12 ERA in just over 54 innings after spending much of the year at Double A Montgomery.

• Travis Hanson, Memphis Redbirds: The power-hitting third baseman was optioned down to Triple A Memphis last month, where he will start the season listed fourth on the Cardinals’ depth chart, meaning he will most likely see some time in St. Louis this year.

Hanson, who has had to overcome a broken ankle and an illness that caused him to lose 15 pounds in the past year, hit .284 with eight home runs and 26 RBI for Double A Springfield last year.

• Aaron Cunningham, Kannapolis Intimidators: Heading into just his second full year of pro ball, Cunningham will play for the Single A affiliate of the World Series champion Chicago White Sox.

The speedy outfielder played in just 10 games for the Intimidators last season, hitting .115 with a pair of RBI.

• Willie Bloomquist, Seattle Mariners: Bloomquist begins his fifth season in the majors, all with Seattle, with an assurance of staying with the club after signing a two-year contract in the offseason.

Bloomquist hit just .188 this spring and drove in three runs but will see his share of playing time as the Mariners main utility guy

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